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Disney Asked to Expand Non-Discrimination Policy

Cinderella's Castle
Flikr/cdharrison
Cinderella's Castle

Disney shareholders on Thursday voted down a proposal put forth by an advocacy group to expand the entertainment giant's non-discrimination policy to include people who the group says are formerly gay, CNBC has learned.

A group called Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays, or PFOX, is asking the entertainment giant to expand non-discrimination practices to cover "men and women with unwanted same-sex attractions who leave homosexuality by gender affirming therapy, faith based ministries, Homosexuals Anonymous support groups, or other non-judgmental environments."

Whether a homosexual can become "ex-gay" is hotly debated, but PFOX claims the ex-gay community is "subject to an increasingly hostile environment because they live out or support a different view of homosexuality." Therefore, they're seeking specific protection from discrimination in Disney's employment policy.

The Disney board is against the proposal, saying current policy provides "broad and appropriate protection against discrimination."

Disney also disputes PFOX's claims that the company has an existing sexual orientation policy and mandatory diversity training "that supports gays and bisexuals, but excludes any support for ex-gays." On the contrary, says the company adding it "does not have a sexual orientation policy" or a policy that specifically "supports gays and bisexuals" and "excludes any support for ex-gays." Instead, Disney says it has a general equal opportunity employment policy and a general policy against harassment "for any reason."

The company expressed concerns that if shareholders approve specific language to protect ex-gays, other groups would follow, such as "persons of mixed race, persons who have changed their religious identification, persons whose marital status has changed or persons who have specific mental or physical disabilities or who developed those disabilities in specific ways."

The company told CNBC that 98 percent of shareholders voted against the initiative.

Disney has been one of the highest profile corporations to offer benefits to same-sex domestic partners, and maybe, some have suggested, PFOX expected a warmer reception.